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AARC Brought Back 800 Lapsed Members with an Automated Win-Back Campaign

Reengaging Lapsed Members

The American Association for Respiratory Care’s (AARC) membership growth was stalled, and even active member renewal was starting to have a bit of a downturn. This steady decrease in membership renewals gave rise to a growing number of lapsed members – the organization had over 18,000 lapsed members within a 24-month period.

They leveraged a personalized, automated win-back campaign using Higher Logic Thrive Marketing to change that trajectory and reengage lapsed members.

The Results


lapsed members rejoined AARC


in recovered membership dues


open rate on the campaign for members who lapsed 3-6 months prior


open rate on the campaign to members who lapsed 7-24 months prior

Evaluating Lapsed Membership

Knowing new member cultivation would not be a quick and easy fix, AARC saw the great potential to win back their growing lapsed member base. They knew it would be easier to keep or recapture former members than try to cultivate a new membership base.

They decided to leverage marketing automation to develop a targeted, personalized campaign strategy, reaching out to prior members to generate interest and encourage them to rejoin.

"None of us have the time to constantly be manually sending out emails of this kind. It makes perfect sense to automate.”

Sherry Milligan

Sherry Milligan

(Retired) Former Associate Executive Director of Membership, AARC

Implementing a Personalized Win-Back Campaign

The first step: evaluate the factors members said contributed to their initial decision to join and analyze feedback data from previous lapsed members to understand their reasons for not renewing. Based on this analysis, AARC developed two communication strategies and personalized messaging for two member segments: those who lapsed within three to six months, and those who lapsed between seven and 24 months.

Members Lapsed in the Past 3-6 Months Members Lapsed in the Past 7-24 Months
Promote online, continuing education

Direct, inviting messaging in two steps: Step 1 is Enroll, Step 2 is Sign up for Class

Feature new enhancements and developments from the last year that add value to the
member experience

Exploratory messaging: ask members to “take another look” and “rediscover” AARC


Moving forward, AARC plans to further target its member segments in the win-back campaign by local or state chapter and which months garner the best open rates.

Testing and Refining Campaign Strategy

Before launching the win-back campaign, AARC ran several tests using the 10-10-80 testing concept.

They tested various email components using 10 percent test panels and applied the winning elements to the final version of the emails. Tests included different subject lines (some with personalization and some without), the “friendly from” field (having emails come from a generic “AARC” email address versus from a person’s name), and a longer versus shorter message.

“We learned a lot about how to optimize our campaign through testing. Personalization in the subject line (using the person’s name) drew far better open rates. Having the message come from a person (our membership chair) rather than a company really boosted opens and clicks. I had thought a shorter, snappier letter would actually garner more clicks, but I found the longer letter drew a better outcome. It was fun to see what pulled greater responses.”

Sherry Milligan

Sherry Milligan

(Retired) Former Associate Executive Director of Membership, AARC

About The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC)

Founded in 1947, the AARC is a not-for-profit professional association with more than 52,000 members worldwide. Their primary membership consists of respiratory therapists, allied health practitioners who are trained at the 2- and 4-year college level to assist physicians in the care of patients with lung disorders and other conditions.

Man and Woman planning marketing automation on tablet

How can Higher Logic Thrive help improve your renewal strategy?

Let’s set up time to talk about your needs and how we can help you save staff time, improve personalization, and deepen member engagement.